By: Ruth Stewart, Harsha Dayal, Laurenz Langer and Carina van Rooyen
Full article: London School of Economics Impact Blog
Drawing on their recent study of South Africa’s evidence ecosystem, Ruth Stewart, Harsha Dayal, Laurenz Langer and Carina van Rooyen, show how the global north has much to learn from evidence ecosystems in the global south. Outlining five lessons that can be learnt from the South African evidence ecosystem, they argue that if notions of a global evidence ecosystem are to be taken seriously, they would do well to start with the experience of the Global South.
Taking the global evidence ecosystem seriously
Evidence-informed decision-making is about better evidence for better decisions. It is about good stewardship of resources, avoiding harm and maximising good, and has among other core principles equity, equality, accountability and transparency. It has the potential to improve life for us all; arguably it is particularly important for those living in resource-poor settings in the Global South. How contradictory then, that the experiences of those working to support evidence-use in the Global South are often missing from global debates and discourses on how to support evidence-informed decision-making.
Despite the recent shift towards a holistic and systemic language of ‘evidence ecosystems’, there remains deeply problematic assumptions in evidence discourses: the South is merely adopting and adapting an approach developed in the North. The South is in ‘deficit’, the North is the ‘saviour’. No one benefits from this assumption. It is in the interests of all working within the ecosystem that experiences and lessons from the Global South are documented and shared. For evidence-informed decision-making to be a reality, we need to work together on an even playing field.
Five lessons from South Africa’s evidence ecosystem…